The Errand-Boys of Europe

The Errand-Boys of Europe

Pádraig Murphy

There is a strong current of thought in Russia which wishes to see the country assert its complete independence from the West and ‘Western values’ and follow its own path as a great Eurasian power. Yet others believe engagement is still possible. What has not been helpful is a US disregard for Russian interests and susceptibilities which has been seen as amounting to an ‘empathy deficit disorder’.

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Lovely Visitors

Lovely Visitors

Kevin Stevens

Lorrie Moore, like Beckett, can find comedy in utter darkness and uses the richness of language as a way of finding, if not solace, at least a way of framing and confronting tragedy.

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Sometimes it’s Hard to be a Man

Sometimes it’s Hard to be a Man

Terence Killeen

The ambiguous concept of “manliness” played an interesting role in the Irish Revival, posing a dilemma for both men and women in relation to an ultimately colonial ideal. Through this lens, Joseph Valente has dismantled the edifice of Revivalist ideology.

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Fishers of Men

Joe Humphreys

A brace of books on Catholic missionary activity in the early twentieth century in Nigeria show that politics, in the context of rivalry with Protestantism, often featured strongly, while pioneers and idealists where not always well treated by their superiors.

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I made a posy, while the day ran by

Florence Impens

A new biography of seventeenth century English poet George Herbert reads his life through his work and his work through his life, and suggests that Herbert is more than just a religious poet, and that his influence on modern poetry should not be overlooked.

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Ulster Polyphony

Gerald Dawe

Northern literature and culture, if it was seen to exist at all before the 1960s renaissance, tended to be blackened by a caricatural view of the wider culture, seen as ‘dour’. John Hewitt’s memoir of the 30s and 40s, however, shows that there were many and varied voices at work.

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Murder on the Bandon River

Gerard Murphy

A new study of the Dunmanway, Cork massacre of Protestants in 1922 brings some fresh evidence to bear and tries to be fair-minded. It is also hard to quarrel with its main conclusion - that the killings were motivated mostly by revenge for the killing of an IRA leader rather than being specifically targeted at informers.

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Commemorating what? And why?

Padraig Yeates

Our acts of remembrance in this decade of commemoration should perhaps include some consideration of the failures of the past as well as its successes, and indeed the failures of the present. And might this not be a good time to have done with militarism once and for all?

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Apples at World’s End

Enda O’Doherty

Czesław Miłosz lived through a century in which many thought they could take History by the scruff of the neck, for the aggrandisement of their own nation or the betterment of mankind. The notion at one stage half-appealed to Miłosz too, but he was to learn to be less ambitious.

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Guns and Chiffon

Richard English

Nationalist women in early twentieth century Ireland had a sometimes difficult relationship with the conservative mainstream. Yet while they were often quite bohemian they were alive to the need to build a constituency and, as it were, advance with a Lee-Enfield in one hand and a loaf of soda bread in the other.

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The People’s Parties

Brendan Sweeney

If Sweden and Ireland are ever compared, it is almost always to the detriment of the latter and many on the left entertain the notion that we would be a lot better off if we could be more like the Nordics. Yet there are curious similarities between the dominant parties that have been in power for most of the modern history of both countries.

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Joy for the Disillusioned

Sean Sheehan

At a time when the Bible’s importance is no longer at the centre of secular cultures, it is timely to consider the contribution of the Norton Critical Edition of the King James Bible. Detailed, yet accessible annotations demonstrate its continuing literary and artistic significance.

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Liberal, but to a Degree

Ultán Gillen

Neoconservatives have argued that liberty and democracy tend not to exist in the absence of markets and free enterprise, and that they in turn are dependent on a vigorous middle class. But the middle class has not been, everywhere and in all circumstances, unambiguously wedded to democracy.

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Pregnant, Seeking Asylum

Ronit Lentin

In 2004 a majority endorsed the removal of the right to citizenship of children born in Ireland to non-Irish parents. Along the way, pregnant women legally seeking asylum were cast as illegal immigrants abusing Irish hospitality. A new book argues that an intersection of racism, sexism, and a ‘heteronormative’ ideology lies behind Irish immigration policy.

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The Last Post

Michael Cronin

Animals have been divided into those we watch TV with, those we eat and those we’re scared of. If ‘becoming animal’ is understood in Hiberno-English as an unfortunate consequence of excessive alcohol consumption, here it is rather a way of perceiving that we exist on a planet that we share with innumerable other species that we continue to destroy in vast numbers.

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The Big Cabbage

Michael Hinds

In the original Chandler novels, mansions, money and manicured lawns did not necessarily presage either virtue or happiness. In Black-Banville’s remake we seem to have taken cognisance of what has happened in the interim, with a Philip Marlowe who strangely equates sports cars and ‘money to burn’ with ‘class’.

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Punished for being Poor

Jeremy Kearney

It is clear that no real effort was made by the Irish government to seriously consider alternatives to the strategy of institutionalisation developed in the nineteenth century. Adoption was illegal until 1952 and boarding out was resisted on the religious grounds of concerns about proselytism.

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Janus-Faced Europe

It is now in the interests of the EU to set about calming the bear at its door, convincing the Russians that mutual respect and trade is in everyone’s interest and that no one will benefit from a new great game conducted in Eastern Europe.

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Look! No Wheels!

The Cold War, or at least the First Cold War, is now long over. Curiously, it ended without a war. Afterwards, the US global hegemony that some predicted failed to materialise. As in other areas, victories in history don’t always amount to as much as was expected. Meanwhile the debate seeking a credible explanation for the implosion of the Soviet Union continues.

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On the Necessary Execution of a Prince

Was the recent arrest, trial and execution of North Korea's number two politician just another sign of the madness of the regime? Or was it perhaps a sign to the people that things could actually change for the better and that no one - none of 'them' - was necessarily too powerful to evade punishment?

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HAVE A NICE DAY, DAY, DAY ...

Fast food workers in the States don’t earn enough to eat ... fast food. Too bad, say the employers, what they do can easily be done by machines.

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Slim Pickings for the Soft Left

France has long been a beacon for social democrats but we may be looking at the beginning of the fall of social France. The political elites of right and left increasingly conform to Peter Mair’s idea of the cartel party, but the politically crucial fact is that they conform on the right of the spectrum.

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The Big Splatter

John Montague

What is truly dazzling in Heaney is his descriptive power, his almost hymn to a Conway Stewart fountain pen, or glimpses of his father performing a farmyard task, wrought to a hallucinatory, Van Gogh-like intensity. Like Gerard Manley Hopkins, Seamus is a mystic of the ordinary, which he renders extraordinary, though unlike Hopkins he does not leap towards God.

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Cold War Reinvented

It is more than a little depressing to contemplate the possibility that the old cold war narrative which restricted the potential of so many  individuals and peoples over the latter half of the twentieth century has given way to a new overarching narrative ‑ equally laden with oppressive potential for anyone in the way ‑ that of multipolarity versus unipolarity.

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Rich Folks’ Politics

As Wasps and similar types decline as a percentage of the US population, things don’t look great for the Republican party. But its creation of safe seats through gerrymandering has facilitated a takeover by extremists, against whom the traditional ‘country club’ moderates seem to be helpless.

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Syria, Goodbye to Diversity

Authoritarian but relatively secularist regimes in the Middle East have often been protectors of diversity. If they are destroyed, where will the region's minorities go?

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Iran and Realpolitik

In the West people generally think of the Islamic world as very ideological, and indeed it is, but the world is complex and realpolitik plays a dominant role in the Muslim sphere just as it does everywhere else.

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This is my Letter to the World

Maurice Earls

Emily’s self-seclusion was in the family tradition, as was her feeling of superiority, which she expressed in her inimitable manner. At a dinner during her visit to Boston, when presented with a flambé dessert she enquired from the judge sitting beside her, with characteristic poise, whether it was permissible in the capital of Unitarianism to eat hell fire. First published Spring 2011

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The Road to Genocide

The ancient Christian communities of Syria, having survived the rise of Islam in the seventh century and the fall of Constantinople in the fifteenth may be driven into the sea in the twenty-first.

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Citizens of the Republic, Jewish History in Ireland

Manus O'Riordan

In the turbulent early years of the Irish Free State, 1922-23, two people who had been listed in the 1911 census as neighbours on Dublin’s Lennox Street met violent deaths at the hands of Free State army officers, one a Catholic and the other a Jew, one a civil servant and the other a tailor. Confounding the stereotypes, it was the Irish republican leader Harry Boland who was both a Catholic and a tailor, while the Jewish victim - Ernest Kahan - was a civil servant in Ireland’s Department of Agriculture.

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Hope in Guatemala

The overthrow of Árbenz in 1954 was among the most ill-conceived CIA operations. In the hypercharged atmosphere of the early cold war, President Dwight Eisenhower, secretary of state John Foster Dulles, and his brother, CIA director Allen Dulles, decided that Guatemala threatened the United States.

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Eat the frail

New Labour and others enthusiastically embraced a model of society which relegated many people to the margins while embracing and celebrating the buccaneer virtues. We have seen where that got us. Is it too late for the left to think again?

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Not yet heaven, not quite hell

First of all you knew you were going to one place or the other. Then along came purgatory. Why it was required is a complex matter, but for heavy work under ground they knew they were going to need the Irish.

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Galway celebrates the book

The West's biggest literary festival kicks off this week with leading Irish and international figures due to come to read.

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The writer cast out

Adam Thirlwell wishes us to contemplate the writer as great soul, cast out of bourgeois society for his compulsion for truth-telling. But the examples he chooses seem a little strange.

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Jacques Le Goff 1924-2014

France's greatest medievalist, and one of Europe's leading historians, has died after a life filled with achievement, aged ninety.

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A Greek sacrifice

The Greeks have been asked to liberalise book prices, a move which publishing and cultural interests in both Germany and France see as inimical to the long-term health of the book sector.

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She wore short shorts

Ireland was backward way back then, or so the story goes, but a capital city is always a capital city and who knows what you might get away with?

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Le livre est mort. Vive le livre

It would be naive to think that new media do not have an eroding effect on old, but traditional forms of reading are not dead yet.

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Dublin Gossip

Dublin's Stoneybatter was a happening place well before the hipsters started moving in five years ago. The alleged doings of Doyle the publican and the delectable Miss Devine were trending back in the 1830s.

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First Catch Your Fairy Godmother

The London Review of Books is a marvel. Cool design, sharp opinion, cosmopolitan style, intellectual depth. How does it do it? Money.

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Auden on good and evil

Doing good is all very well, but best to keep it to one's self. Being good is a more slippery matter still, and the good man often shares a bed with the bad one.

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Homes for the Blind and Deaf

There was perfect cleanliness and order in all parts of the establishment, and a large allowance of fresh air. We took leave of the kind and courteous Brother and left the Home for Deaf-mutes, heartily wishing that the blind boys could enjoy the privilege of being under the care of the excellent and intelligent Christian Brothers.

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Filthy Lucre

Money makes the world go round, but I think sensitive people like you and I can leave that to others.

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A Fair Price

Classical and medieval thinkers had a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with the practices of merchants, shopkeepers and stallholders. 'Five obols, guv, and I'll throw in the amphora. Can't say fairer than that.'

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The City in Song and Verse

The new One City One Book choice, in succession to 2013's Strumpet City, is to be launched early next month.

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The Trouble With Concessions

When nineteenth century Ireland received the benefits of British political reform the effect was the opposite of what it had been in England. Far from it being a case of being bought off, bringing the Catholic middle classes into the tent in Ireland actually resulted in greater pressure.

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A New Novel from Mr Joyce

A hundred years ago Joyce's Portrait first appeared in the magazine The Egoist.

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The Rise and Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger

In 2008 Ireland experienced one of the most dramatic economic crises of any economy in the world. It remains at the heart of the international crisis, sitting uneasily between  the US and European economies.

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Listening to Bach

A posthumous collection of Pearse Hutchinson’s poems has just been published. His poems have long been recognized as unique, for their lively, learned, humane framing of experience, and for their urgent and communicative language. They are redolent of his personality: of a life lived wide awake and in many places, of a mind adventurous and well equipped that engaged above all with the truth of things as they happen.

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The Temporary Gentleman

Jack McNulty is a ‘temporary gentleman’, an Irishman whose commission in the Second World War was never permanent. In 1957, sitting in his lodgings in Accra, he urgently sets out to write his story.

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The Appleman and the Poet

Russia features prominently in the fifth volume of Hubert Butler’s essays. Beginning with ‘Russian Dispatches 1932-1946’, Butler gives an evocative description – from the viewpoint of a bourgeois teacher – of a society in dissolution, before the onset of Stalin’s Great Purge.

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The Lost Spirit of Capitalism

In this important book, Bernard Stiegler takes a very different view: what we are witnessing today he says is not the triumph of the spirit of capitalism but rather its demise, as our contemporary ‘hyperindustrial’ societies become increasingly uncontrollable, irrational and incapable of inspiring hope.

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The Leaves on Grey

Desmond Hogan’s 1980 novel has been reissued. The Leaves on Grey is the story of Ireland, ’maker of wounds, tormentor of youth, ultimately breaker of all that was sensitive and enriched by sun, rain, wind’. Sean and Liam, and the men and women who become part of their lives, are both the creators and the victims of their birthright.

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The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda

According to the author of this book the war with Al-Qaeda is over. The once fearsome and deeply feared organization has degenerated into a marginal entity, kept alive largely by the massive self serving anti- terrorist bureaucracy it helped spawn in Washington and elsewhere.

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Eating Fire, My Life as a Lesbian Avenger

Described as a freewheeling memoir of lesbian activism - alternately funny and raucous, meditative and reflective – it is a document of a specific time and place. But it is also a marvelous, timeless tale of wit, survival, determination, and, ultimately, of facing history. Incisive, politically astute, and a much needed addition to LGBT history

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Thinking Big, How the Evolution of Social Life Shaped the Human Mind

In this book the authors ask when and how did the brains of our homonin ancestors become human minds? When and why did our capacity for language or art, music and dance evolve? It is the contention of this pathbreaking and provocative book that it was the need for early humans to live in ever- larger social groups.

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The Flea Market in Valparaiso

According to one commentator “Gabriel Rosenstock’s poetry is unique in the aesthetic resolution it achieves between the political and the metaphysical, the regional and the universal, the identification with the victims of injustice, neglect and exploitation and the celebration of nature’s endless mystery: there are very few poets writing today who can equal him in his range.”

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Are We all Scientific Experts Now?

In this provocative new book Harry Collins seeks to redeem scientific expertise, and reasserts sceience’s special status. Despite the messy realities of day-to-day scientific endeavour, he emphasises the superior moral qualities of science, dismissing the dubious “default” expertise displayed by many of those outside the scientific community.

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Horace and Me

In Horace and Me, Eyres re-examines Horace’s life, legacy and verse. With a light, lyrical touch and a keen critical eye, Eyres reveals a lively, relevant Horace, whose society – Rome at the dawn of the empire – has much in common with our own, including a curious sense of hollowness at the heart of unparalleled prosperity.

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